The Members of the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) congratulate Mr. John W. Ficklin on his January 2016 retirement from government service, completing his forty-three year tenure at the White House as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Records and Access Management at the National Security Council. In his capacity as Senior Director, Mr. Ficklin was responsible for declassification of White House records as well as other information and records management duties. He remained a keen partner of the PIDB in its undertaking to promote public access to an accurate and thorough documentation of significant national security decisions and activities.
Mr. William Leary, Acting Chair of the PIDB and previous Senior Director for Records and Access Management, credits Mr. Ficklin, in 1984, with initially transforming the mainly paper-based White House records management infrastructure to a restructured electronic / digital system of information governance. Of his many accomplishments during his tenure, Mr. Flicklin has overseen the release of over 2,500 previously classified President Daily Briefs from the administrations of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Mr. Ficklin chaired the Interagency Security Classification Panel (ISCAP), as well as supported the establishment of the National Declassification Center (NDC) and the processing of its 360 million page backlog of records.
More recently, Mr. Ficklin dedicated much of his efforts to the President’s transparency and open government initiatives, including the advancement of two key commitments in the Open Government National Action Plans, transforming the security classification system and streamlining declassification. He chaired the interagency Classification Reform Committee (CRC), a White House-led Steering Committee dedicated to advancing modernization efforts for classification and declassification. Among its many accomplishments was to initiate the successful piloting by the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Archives of technological tools to automate decision-support in declassification review. The CRC continues to meet under the direction of Mr. John P. Fitzpatrick, former Director of the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO). Mr. Fitzpatrick assumed Mr. Ficklin’s previous role as Senior Director for Records and Access Management at the NSC.
Mr. Ficklin’s distinguished career, as well as his family’s historic service at the White House, were the subjects of a moving article in last Sunday’s Washington Post. You can read the article here.
The PIDB thanks Mr. Ficklin for his service to the country and its citizens. The members are grateful for the many years of cooperation they have had working with Mr. Ficklin and wish him a rewarding and well-deserved retirement.